If you’re considering a new, successful career, consider one in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC careers are continuing to grow in popularity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts the continued growth of the industry by 13 percent by 2028.
People interested in HVAC quickly discover why these careers are continuing to grow. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which affects old models. Finally, there’s the dynamic real estate market as well as a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.
One of the most in-demand careers is working as an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Are HVAC Technicians?
A HVAC technician should be able to repair, install and maintain heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most importantly, you’ll learn a great deal about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality products such as air filters and air purification systems
Some are HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
There is a high demand for qualified HVAC technicians because of an industry shortage of labor. This shortage is because of several things, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. Many younger people also pursue college degrees instead of a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC can be physically demanding, it can still be quite gratifying. As a technician you’ll need to be able to:
- Work in unpleasant settings, such as tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.
A common misconception about learning HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s a smart career if you would like to:
- Minimize student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security knowing your position can’t be outsourced.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Difficult Job?
Every job has sources of stress. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools can help address any concerns. In addition, paid training and a consistent schedule help both installers and technicians reduce some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be tiring. HVAC technicians should be physically fit, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to remain as healthy as possible.
Are HVAC Careers at Risk Because of a Recession?
While no job is guaranteed to survive a recession, HVAC is consistently avoiding the worst of economic downturns due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be required, , which means professionals in HVAC can often find work in more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems need less energy or produce it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Environmentally sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED as well as professional training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers typically need additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. The time it takes to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which is most often around six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation expands your technical knowledge to ensure the highest quality services.
While some elements of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don't involve complex math. While a little math is needed, the majority of an HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, in order to properly identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that HVAC techncians who are familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful as equipment becomes more technologically advanced.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is almost zero student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. In comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician
A typical workday may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you work in repairs, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For projects more relevant to new construction, you will be more likely to keep to a set schedule during normal business hours.
As a technician, your 'office' is actually all the properties you visit to complete repair, maintenance or installation work. Some jobs might take longer than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
As we mentioned before, every now and then the job will have to be done in severe weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. If you work in a customer-facing role, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Is a Career in HVAC Profitable? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
Since the HVAC industry is growing quickly, your salary should reflect that. The national average salary for an HVAC technician is $49,242, according to ZipRecruiter. Professionals with specialized skills could make between $56,600 and $68,000. Then again, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Some HVAC techs working in management in a high-paying state may make as much as six figures.
Along with starting your own business, there are several other ways to advance your career. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC That Pay the Most
You can specialize for new opportunities within the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities help unlock paths to specialist careers with even higher salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could receive six-figure salaries. Larger salaries are also common when you work with advanced equipment like commercial HVAC systems, geothermal heat pumps or radiant in-floor heating.
What States Need HVAC Workers the Most
HVAC technicians are needed in cities throughout the country, but particularly in states like Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the greatest number of HVAC professionals and are experiencing enormous growth in the construction industry. Here’s why:
- Florida: Hurricanes, education and healthcare facilities.
- California: Wildfires, transportation, energy and utility projects.
- Texas: Hurricanes, energy, utility and other infrastructure upgrades.
- New York: Residential and infrastructure updates.
- Illinois: Companies relocating to the Chicago area.
Where HVAC Technicians Will Be in High Demand in the Future
Projections Central, who develops long-term occupational projections, expects these states to have the greatest demand for technicians by 2028:
- Utah, 31.1%
- Colorado, 29.7%
- Nevada, 27.9%
- Arizona, 21.4%
- Iowa, Oregon and Montana, 18.5%
- Arkansas, 16.3%
- Florida, 16.2%
- South Carolina, 16%
- Texas, 15.9%
- Idaho, 15.7%
- Washington, 15.6%
- North Carolina, 15.5%
- Tennessee, 15.2%
- Wyoming, 14.3%
- Nebraska, 13.9%
- Indiana, 13.8%
- North Dakota, 13.8%
Here’s where the highest number of new positions during that time frame are expected to be:
- Florida, 5,420
- Texas, 5,530
- California, 4,100
- North Carolina, 2,510
- New York, 2,290
- Colorado, 2,000
- Ohio, 1,550
- Pennsylvania, 1,510
- Virginia, 1,500
- Tennessee, 1,360
- Washington, 1,290
- Georgia, 1,270
- New Jersey, 1,170
- Utah, 1,170
- South Carolina, 1,1060
- Indiana, 940
- Maryland, 820
- Missouri and Arizona, 810
- Michigan, 780
Weather and a healthy economy is anticipated to fuel growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with James Heating & A/C, Inc
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in Lexington/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 336-853-6070 today!